Music eBook Guide: Writing, Marketing, and Selling
I think you’ll agree that is seems intimidating to write and sell your own music eBook.
You have to learn about how to write the eBook, how to include musical examples, how to sell the book, and how to deal with customer service.
With all that needs to be done, it can seem like an overwhelming task to write a music eBook.
But does it have to be?
Well, it turns out that writing and selling a music eBook isn’t out of the grasp of most, if not all, private music teachers.
By using the methods presented in this article, you’ll be able to write, market, and sell the music eBook you’ve always wanted to write.
The topics in this article will take you from day one, coming up with a topic, up until launch day and beyond.
Preparation is the best way to set your eBook up for success, and this article gives you everything you need to know to fully prepare your eBook for launch.
Table of Contents (Click to Skip Down)
- Getting Started – Finding a Book Topic
- Creating Your eBook Outline
- Writing and Formatting
- How to Create and Embed Musical Examples
- Where to Sell Your eBook
- Preparing for Launch
- Launch Day
- Customer Service
Teach Music Online Starter Kit
If you’re new to teaching music online, or need a refresher on how to build your online music teaching business, then please download my free starter kit.
This free eBook will teach you everything you need to know to get your online music teaching business off the ground the right way.
You’ll learn about social networking, building an email list, creating a brand that you’re proud of, recruiting music students online, and more.
Getting Started – Finding an eBook Topic
Before you begin writing your eBook, you’ll need to find a topic to write about.
Even if you already have ideas of what to write about, you’ll need to do some market research to see if that topic is a viable option for your music eBook.
As well, if you’re stuck with what topic to choose for your eBook, which often happens with your first book, you can use research methods to find your topic.
In this section, you’ll learn how to use your current students, forums, and your online followers to determine the best subject matter for your eBook.
By researching what students are interested in your area of expertise, you’ll give yourself the best shot to be successful when you release your eBook.
Common Questions From Current Students
The first place to look for topics for your eBook, and often an untapped resource, is the list of questions you receive each week from your private students.
If you have a studio of students already, there’s no doubt they come in with questions about your topic of expertise.
When a student comes in, write the question down after their lesson and keep track of how many times that question is asked over a several month period.
By doing so, you’ll quickly realize which questions come up time and again with your students, giving you ideas of what topic or topics to cover in your eBook.
Even if you don’t end up using these topics as the main subject of your book, they can influence your chapter titles and subheadings throughout your eBook.
Students are a valuable resource when it comes to figuring out what to write about in your eBook.
As they’re representative of countless other students in the world, their questions are probably being asked by thousands of other students.
These students are going to be your customer base when you release your eBook.
Therefore, writing about a topic that interests this customer base will help you market and sell your eBook when it’s ready to be released.
Forum Questions and FAQ Sections
Other popular places you can look for possible eBook topics are forums and sites such as Reddit, where sub reddits will have FAQ sections to browse.
Here’s an example of a question that’s on the guitar lessons reddit page, which is worth noting if you are looking for forum questions based on guitar and learning guitar.
If you go to a forum in your area of expertise and notice that the same questions come up time and again, then that’s a popular enough topic that you could use.
As well, if a topic, or series of questions under an umbrella topic, is featured in a number of sub reddit or forum FAQ sections, that’s also a good sign for that topic.
You don’t have to find your eBook topic from scratch in this manner, but if you’re stuck it can help you see what students in your field and struggling with.
If you already have an idea in mind, you can use forums and FAQ sections to see if it’s a valuable topic, and if it is, exactly how people are asking about that topic.
If you’re interested in writing about piano scales, and you notice that people often ask, “How to learn piano scales for each key,” that can guide your topic choice.
You would then make sure to include fingerings for all 12 keys in your eBook as that’s a topic many people are asking about.
In the same light, if you were planning on writing a book on piano scales and covering the diminished scale in your chapters, but it never comes up, leave it.
You can use forums and FAQ sections to guide you on both what to write about and what not to write about in your eBook.
Lastly, you can look at the answers to these questions, and any follow up questions, to make sure you cover the topic entirely in your eBook.
Often, even after you’ve planned your chapters, you’ll come across a question in a forum that will inspire you to reorganize, or even add a chapter, in your eBook.
Don’t be afraid to adjust as you go if you come across popular questions online that you’ve missed in your eBook.
This way, you’ll be able to choose your topic, possibly your title, and later on chapter headings built around what real students are asking about online.
Survey Your Followers
If you already have a number of followers on social media, or an active email list, you can send out a quick survey to your readers to get their opinions on a topic.
You can do this but sending out a poll on Facebook or Twitter, or you can use a service like Survey Monkey to send out a survey to your email list.
When doing so, you can approach surveys and polls in two ways.
The first is that you give your followers a blank slate, you simply ask what topics they think would be most beneficial to them in an upcoming eBook.
Then, you would take all the answers and see which topics were the most popular.
The second way to approach surveys and polls would be to narrow down your choices ahead of time to a few topics.
Then, when you send out the survey, you ask readers which of those pre-determined topics they would prefer for your next eBook.
Either way is fine, and both will work well depending on where you already are in the decision process.
Surveys are excellent ways to determine eBook, and article, topics.
The reason for this is that even though you’re writing the book, you’re not buying it.
So, go ask the people who will buy your eBook what they want to see.
In the end the decision is always yours, but in my experience the customer is always right.
When enough readers have suggested lessons or topics to me for eBooks, and then I followed their suggestions, I’ve had great success with my products.
When I go with my own ideas, the results can be mixed at best.
Creating an eBook Outline
Once you have your topic chosen, you’re ready to begin laying out the skeleton of your eBook before writing the text and creating the musical examples.
There are two essential steps to this first part of the process, creating chapter headings and creating subheadings for each chapter.
By laying out your eBook in this manner, you’ll make sure your material is presented in an organized and easy to follow manner for your readers.
As well, it’ll make it easier for you to write the eBook when the time comes, as you’ll have a direct path of logic to follow with your material.
This section will help you organize the skeleton of your eBook, setting you up to begin the writing process after this initial planning stage.
Overall Outline – Chapter Topics
One of the most important steps once you have your eBook topic is to layout the chapter topics for your book.
By organizing your eBook into chapters, you’ll avoid rambling on and being disjointed in you presentation of the material.
It’ll help you present the material clearly in the table of contents, as well as while the reader is scrolling through your eBook.
When coming up with chapter topics, think of the main areas that you’ll cover in your eBook, and then use those as your chapter headings.
You don’t want to have too many that it’s hard to follow for the reader, but you also don’t want to have too few that each chapter is overly long and complex.
For the average eBook, which in my experience runs between 125 and 200 pages with musical examples, 5 to 6 chapters is a good amount to use.
When writing your chapter titles, be sure to make them descriptive yet to the point.
Rather than use, “Every Piano Fingering You Need to Know In Order to Play Major Scales,” say, “12 Essential Major Scale Fingerings.”
This will allow you to get your point across without confusing your reader in the process.
Once you have your chapter titles chosen and on the page, you can use them to set up your table of contents at the start of your book.
Depending on which program you’re using, you can make your TOC clickable so that readers can easy get to the chapter they want with one click.
Chapter Outline – Sub Headings
Once you’ve decided on your chapter topics, and laid them out on the page, you’ll want to divide each chapter into subheadings.
This allows your reader to skip around quickly if they want to find a sub topic, and it helps you organize your thoughts within each chapter into digestible sections.
If you don’t use subheadings, your book won’t be unsuccessful, but it may be harder to read and cause more confusion in your readers than is necessary.
When working with subheadings, don’t have too many that it goes in the other direction, making it hard to read because it’s overly organized.
Instead, think of subheadings as ways of organizing topics that occur within a chapter, and then when the topic changes, you can use a new subheading.
An example of this would be if you wrote a book on piano technique and had a chapter titled “Introduction to Scale Fingerings on Piano.”
From there, you could use the following subheadings within that chapter:
- Major Scale Fingerings
- Natural Minor Scale Fingerings
- Harmonic Minor Scale Fingerings
- Melodic Minor Scale Fingerings
You can see how the overall topic of the chapter was scale fingerings, and so each subheading was a smaller topic found within the scale fingerings umbrella.
After you’ve worked out your subheadings, you can include them in your table of contents if you feel it’s helpful, and that it doesn’t cause your TOC to be confusing.
Or, you can leave them be and have your reader discover them when they reach each chapter in the book.
I prefer the second method, mostly because it keeps the TOC clean and easy to navigate.
Writing and Formatting
Now that you have your outline completed you’re ready to begin writing your eBook.
While you may want to jump right in and begin writing, you’ll have a few more items to consider before you put words on the page.
This section will outline how to write your eBook, using the one tip that changed my writing, how to structure sentences, and how to link to references in your eBook.
By considering these items before you begin writing, and as you write your eBook, you’ll save yourself headaches and editing when you finish writing.
Working Backwards When Writing Chapters
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received about writing articles and eBooks was from my friend Rick.
At one point, Rick mentioned that he wrote every article on his website backwards, starting with the last paragraph and working up the page from there.
When I first heard him say that I thought he was a bit nuts.
Then I tried it.
Boy was I surprised, writing from the last paragraph to the first has changed my writing for the better in both my eBooks and articles.
By starting with the final section, you’ll prevent yourself from overwriting in the beginning and having lopsided articles.
As well, you’ll be editing yourself as you write, and you’ll know exactly how to begin a section or chapter, as you’ve already written the conclusion.
It may seem strange at first, but give it a try; it can make your writing more efficient, make editing less of a chore, and keep you organized in your writing.
I write all my articles, including this one, and eBooks from back to front.
Starting with my outline, I then create the final paragraph and work backwards from there.
If you try this and find it too strange to be comfortable, you can write the final chapter or sub-section of that final chapter first.
Then, write the second last chapter or sub-section etc., until you’ve reached the first chapter of your eBook.
Doing so will have the same effect, though with a slightly different process than writing in sentences and working backwards.
Either way, I can’t recommend this approach enough, especially for novice writers, as it’ll prevent you from having to do heavy editing or reorganizing after the fact.
Sentence and Paragraph Length
As many customers will use your eBook on their tablets and phones, as well as on their computers, it’s best to treat your layout as you would an article on your site.
To make things easier to read on smaller screens, and larger ones for that matter, you can keep paragraphs to one or two sentences at most.
As well, you can keep paragraphs to two lines or less if possible, though that’s not always the case when writing an eBook.
Here’s an example from a section of a lesson that I wrote where I use short sentences and one sentence per paragraph to see this technique in action.
Keeping your sentences and paragraphs short has two consequences.
The first is that you make it easy to read and follow the text on any size screen, allowing readers to your eBook on any device they choose.
The second, and probably most important, is it forces you to be succinct and hyper-edited with your writing.
If you only have two lines to get your point across in a sentence or paragraph, you won’t waste space with unnecessary words or phrases.
Instead, you’ll get right to the point and only use the minimum amount of text to express the maximum amount of information.
Doing so will allow your readers to follow along easily and not get distracted or confused with flowery or unnecessary verbiage in your writing.
Writing in a compact, succinct style also makes it easy for readers who don’t speak your mother tongue as their first language to understand your writing.
Using flowery language and overly long sentences and paragraphs makes it hard for non-English speakers to understand your writing, if you’re writing in English.
Readers who are learning in their second or third language will appreciate that fact that you had them in mind when you wrote and formatted your eBook.
Linking to Websites and Other Off-Page Material
When writing your eBook, you’ll be able to include a lot of concepts, techniques, and other material.
But, you won’t be able to include it all.
When you realize that you need to include information on a topic, but don’t have room or don’t want to sidetrack in your eBook to do so, you can use html links.
Html links are links that you attach to text, such as here, and when your readers click on them, they’re taken to an online article that explains that concept further.
If you’re using a word processor such as Word, then you simply highlight the words you want to link to, right click your mouse, and click “hyperlink.”
From there, you insert the link and click save, that’s it.
Rather than using footnotes and a bibliography, as you would with a hard-copy book, you can use direct links to reference material as sources in your eBook.
Now, you don’t want to overdo links in your eBook, as readers will complain that you’re sending them off the page too often to learn specific concepts.
But, if you use links sparingly, and when appropriate, they can be an effective way to expand the information in your eBook without including unnecessary text.
When choosing links to include in your eBook, the most obvious choice would be to link to articles on your website related to those topics.
Watch that you don’t link to promotional material, such as your Skype lessons page, as readers will see this as overtly self-promotional.
Instead, use articles from your site that will explain certain topics further and that don’t advertise other services to your readers.
Lastly, you can include links to other websites besides your own in your eBook.
Make sure that these websites are reliable, such as .edu or .ac.uk (educational) websites, or sites written by experts in your field.
That way, when readers see the high quality of your links, they’ll trust your references and feel comfortable clicking on further links in your eBook.
You can also reach out to the authors of any sites or articles that you link to and let them know you referenced them in your eBook.
How to Create and Embed Musical Examples
Along with writing text for your eBook, you’ll need to include musical examples to get your points across to readers and demonstrate musical concepts and techniques.
In this section, you’ll learn how to create and include visual, audio, and video examples in your eBook.
You don’t have to include all three of these types of examples in your eBook, so reviewing each one and deciding what’s best for you is essential.
No matter which options you choose, if creating these files is new to you there will be a learning curve in the process.
Don’t be frustrated or think that you’ll never do it. Anyone can learn how to create images, audio, and video files for an eBook.
It might take a bit of time, reading, and experimenting, but you’ll be able to create the musical examples you want for your eBook.
I started with no prior knowledge with any of these items when I wrote my first music eBook, and was able to learn along the way, with some trial and error.
If I can do it, so can you.
Including visual examples is essential to creating an engaging and informative eBook.
These images can include pictures of posture, hand positions, parts of an instrument, or most commonly, musical examples.
As taking photos of posture and hand positions, etc., is fairly straightforward, this section will focus on creating and embedding musical examples into your eBook.
Both have pros and cons, including price point and functionality, but both will get the job done when it comes to creating musical examples for your eBook.
Here’s a musical example using Sibelius.
As many music teachers had to purchase either Finale or Sibelius when you were in school, you may already have one of these programs and can use that right away.
But, if you’ve never purchased notation software, now is probably a good time to invest in Finale or Sibelius.
Though they’re expensive, they’re also a business expense that can be included in your tax deductions at the end of the year.
As well, you’ll find that once you have a notation package, you’ll use it far more often for day to day teaching and for your website if you have lessons on your site.
Once you’ve settled on a software program, you can create your musical examples.
For me, the more the better, as it gets the reader playing, gives them direct examples of the concepts in the book, and breaks up the text.
You don’t have to overdo it, but if you’re wondering whether to include a musical example at a certain point or not, include it.
When you create your examples, it’s best to create each example in a separate file, so that you can quickly export it and edit it and re-export later on if needed.
This is opposed to creating one large file with all your musical examples, which can cause headaches when it comes time to export those files for your eBook.
When exporting and formatting images for your eBook, you’ll want to keep them as large as possible for quality, but not too large that your PDF is hard to download.
With my eBooks, I export the files as PNG from Sibelius at 600 DPI.
Then, I shrink those images to be 720 pixels wide and insert them directly into my word document at the points where those images should be seen.
This has given me the highest quality images, without creating a huge PDF, which I could produce.
But, you might be able to come up with another approach to exporting the images and importing them into your eBook, so feel free to experiment.
No matter how you approach it, your goals should be the same, include high quality images that aren’t too large as to cause download problems with your PDF.
As music is an aural art form, audio examples are an essential ingredient to any successful music eBook launch.
While you may know that you need to include musical examples, you may not know how to record them or how to include them in your final product.
To record audio examples, you don’t need to purchase any expensive software, or take courses in audio engineering, or even hire a recording studio to do so.
If you have the finances, and access to a quality studio, then paying someone to record your examples, as you play them, is an easy way to go.
But, it’s not necessary in this day and age.
You can use free software, such as Garage Band for MAC, which comes with every MAC computer to record high-quality audio files for your eBook.
If you use Windows, a free program such as Audacity may be all you need to get the job done and record your audio examples for this eBook.
You can also purchase audio recording programs if you prefer, but it’s not needed.
Often times, authors will purchase top of the line audio recording software as they feel it’s necessary to produce the audio examples in their eBooks.
But, while the program is high quality, they spend more time figuring out how it works rather than writing and releasing their eBook.
To avoid this, I would suggest going with a free, or cheap, recording software that’s easy and intuitive to use.
Or, if you aren’t comfortable recording yourself, look for a local recording studio and spend a day recording your musical examples there.
Once you have your examples recorded, you’ll need to decide how to include them in your eBooks.
There are several ways to do this depending on which writing program you’re using to create your eBook.
If you’re using a PDF creation product such as InDesign, then you can embed the audio directly into your eBook.
This is the easiest way to play the audio on a laptop, but be aware that many phones and tablets won’t allow people to listen to embedded audio.
Programs such as iBooks have this issue, and so readers will have to buy an app such as EZPDF reader to listen to embedded audio.
This is an easy solution to that problem, but it does force your customers to spend more money than they had intended in order to access the audio files.
Another solution to this problem, is to include links in your eBook to audio files online, which you can host on your website.
People would click on a link in the text, then a window in their Internet browser opens and the audio file plays.
This makes listening to the audio quick and easy, if the person is online.
If your readers are offline, they won’t be able to access the audio files, causing problems for customers and plenty of complaint emails.
To avoid this problem, you can either solely include audio files to download and play when people purchase the eBook.
Or, you can have the links in the text, and include audio downloads at purchase to cover both of your bases.
I’ve tried all three methods, embedding, links, and downloads, and have found that downloads, or links with downloads for offline use works best.
You’ll have to try a few options over time and see what your audience prefers, but it is always best to include at least one option to play the audio examples offline.
Lastly, if you decide to sell your eBook on Amazon or iTunes, you’ll have to deal with audio examples in a different manner.
Please refer to the sections on Amazon and iTunes below to find out more about how to include audio examples when selling your eBook on these platforms.
Though they aren’t as easy to include as audio or visual examples, you can use video when it comes to creating musical examples for your eBook.
While you can embed audio and visual files into your eBook, embedding video is often not possible, or would make the PDF file too large to be practical.
Because of this, you’ll need to find another route when including video examples in your eBook.
There are a few ways that you can include video in your eBook, such as linking to unlisted videos on YouTube or hosted on your website in your text.
When doing so, you’ll be able to include short, or long, video examples for your readers to enjoy as they work through the material in your book, which is a plus.
But, they’ll have to be online to view the videos, which may or may not be a problem for some readers depending on their location, which is a negative.
As well, depending on the quality of the video examples, readers may not only have to be online, but might need a fast Internet connection to view the videos.
Though faster Internet speeds are becoming more common around the world, not everyone has access to fast enough Internet to comfortably play video.
If you do include video, it’s best to also have an audio file for that same musical example, either as a download or embedded in the eBook.
This’ll allow readers to access that musical example, in audio form, without having to be online or have a fast Internet connection.
They can access the video if they have the proper Internet speed and connection, but don’t lose out as they can just use the audio file if they are offline.
Because it is trickier to include video with your eBook, I would recommend only doing so when you can’t find any other way to demonstrate a musical concept.
If you can get your point across with notation and audio, then that’s the most direct and easiest way to create musical examples for an eBook.
If you find that you can’t get your point across without video examples, then maybe your eBook would be better off as an online course, where video would be expected.
Don’t panic if you realize that your eBook would be better off as an online course at this stage, it’s not too late to change paths at this time.
Where to Sell Your Music eBook
One of the most important decisions you’ll have to make when selling your eBook is where to sell your music eBook.
You can sell it yourself through a hosting platform such as eJunkie, or you can sell it through a third-party such as Amazon, or both if it suits you.
Understanding the different ways that you can sell your eBook, and the costs and rules involved with each option, is essential for any music eBook author.
In this section, you’ll look at how you can self-publish your eBook, if you have an online following already built, as well as how you can sell through third parties.
This is just an introduction to these platforms, so please read the terms and conditions, as well as other author’s experiences, before releasing your eBook.
Understanding what you’re getting into when self-publishing or releasing through an Amazon or iTunes can make or break your eBook launch.
If you’re totally stuck on the terms or conditions, don’t be afraid to talk to a lawyer or author who has gone through this process to get their expert opinion.
Self-Publishing Your Music eBook
If you’ve already built a following online, through your social networks and email list, then self-publishing your eBook is probably the best option for you.
By self-publishing, you’ll be able to keep much more money for each sale, as well as sell directly to your readers through your website.
In my experience, if you have the following numbers or higher, then self-publishing would be worth looking into.
- Facebook – 1000 followers
- Twitter – 500 followers
- Email List – 1000 subscribers
Those aren’t big numbers, but if you keep most of each sale, then you don’t need big numbers to turn a profit from your eBook.
For example, if you sold 100 copies of your eBook through Amazon, and they cap the price at 9.99 and take 30%, you’d make roughly $700.
But, if you sold the same eBook on your own site for 19.99, a normal price for music eBooks, you’d need to sell 35 copies to make the same amount of money.
You will need to pay a small amount to Paypal, usually around 1.2% and 30 cents per transaction, and a static fee for a service like eJunkie, 5$ per month.
So, a more realistic number would be 37 eBooks to make the same as selling 100 on Amazon.
That makes a lot of sense to me. Not only do you have to sell less copies, but you keep control of your eBook and sales material all on your website.
If you’re thinking of self-publishing, I’ve used all three of these services with success over the years.
Each of these services will help you sell your eBook online, handle transactions, and deliver the eBook when it’s complete.
eJunkie is the easiest of the three to use, with Getdpd and Stripe usually used in combination in order to accept PayPal and credit/debit cards for sales.
If this is your first music eBook, eJunkie is very easy to use and set up, therefore it might be the best option to initiate you into the world on online sales.
If you’ve sold eBooks before, or are a bit more tech savvy, then Getdpd with Stripe is a nice option as well.
No matter what option you choose, the process is relatively the same.
You create a product page on the host, such as eJunkie, then you upload the product, set the price, and they give you a bit of code to insert into your website.
This code can be copied and pasted into WordPress, in the html section of any page or post, and displays a “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button on your site.
From there, customers click the button, purchase the book with their PayPal, debit, or credit card, and the eBook is emailed them to download immediately.
The amount of money you pay for these services differs slightly, so make sure you read through the options fully to understand how much you give away per sale.
Regardless, it won’t come close to how much a third-party such as Amazon or iTunes will take if you go through their site.
If you have a following online, then self-publishing makes the most sense.
You don’t have to sell as many products to make a profit, and you keep control of your marketing and eBook presentation on your website.
As well, with updates in technology, selling your own eBook is very easy through a service like eJunkie or Getdpd, so there’s no learning curve with the technology.
Selling a Music eBook on Amazon
If you haven’t developed a following online at this point, then self-publishing an eBook might not be the best choice for you.
Instead, you could launch your eBook through a third-party seller, with the most commonly used being Amazon.
When selling through Amazon, you’ll have access to the world’s biggest online shopping market, but will trade a healthy share of your sales for that privilege.
Having your eBook show up in search results on Amazon can produce big numbers for your sales over time.
But, you won’t be able to keep all of that profit; Amazon will take a cut to host and sell your eBook on their site.
As well, Amazon will dictate how much you can charge for your eBook, which is often much less than you could charge on your own website.
Before signing any agreement to sell on Amazon, make sure to read the text fully and understand exactly what you’re agreeing to.
Depending on how you sell your eBook on Amazon, you may not be able to sell it anywhere else online for a specific amount of time, such as six months.
As well, Amazon has different eBook programs; with some, readers purchase the book outright, and others where they rent the book for a specific amount of time.
Be sure to understand which program you are signing up for when you release an eBook with Amazon, as they have different payout and legal terms of contract.
Lastly, Amazon won’t let you embed audio files into your eBook, or link to them in the text, and so you need to account for that with your sales.
What my friends who sell on Amazon have done in the past is to put a link in the front page of the eBook where customers can download the audio files from there.
This isn’t ideal, but it does get around the issue of audio files and the Amazon publishing platform.
If you haven’t built an online following yet, but have a well-written eBook, then Amazon can be the right option for you at this stage in your career.
But, if you have an online following, you might not want to give up a chunk of your earnings to host your eBook on Amazon.
Make sure you understand the contract, and do the math to make sure it makes sense, before signing any agreement with Amazon to publish your eBook.
Selling a Music eBook on iTunes
You can also sell your eBook on the Apple store through iTunes, and their mobile app, iBooks.
Apple has specific rules about what types of eBooks can be sold on their platform, and instructional books haven’t been allowed in the past, but this can change.
If you find that your “how to” book isn’t allowed on the Apple platforms, you can go through their Apple iBooks Author platform to publish your eBook that way.
As is the case with any 3rd party seller, make sure you read the rules about where you can sell your eBook and know how much Apple takes in commission.
The pros and cons to selling on iTunes are similar to those of selling on Amazon, you have a wider audience to sell to, but you give up a bigger cut to Apple from sales.
If you haven’t built an audience yet online, then using a platform such as iTunes or iBooks Author can be an effective way to get traffic to your eBook through search.
But, if you already have a healthy audience of online followers, then giving up a large chunk of your sales to Apple might not be worth it.
Make sure to read the agreement and understand what you’re signing when/if you release your eBook with Apple.
Preparing for Launch
Once your eBook is complete, you’re ready to prepare to launch your book and get it out for the world to enjoy.
Though most of the grunt work happens in the writing and editing stages, getting ready to launch requires time and hard work as well.
Because of this, it’s important to plan out your launch plan just as you planned out your eBook chapters and design.
By having a launch plan, and following it as you lead up to launch day, you’ll give yourself the best chance of success as you release your eBook.
In this section, you’ll learn about how to best prepare for launch day on your end, as well as how to prepare your followers for your new eBook.
Clearing Your Schedule
The first item on your list for launch day is to clear your schedule so you’re free to properly promote and deal with customer service when the eBook goes live.
Too often people will send out an email, post to social media, and tell friends about their new eBook, but then go about their normal schedule.
Sometimes this could work out fine, but if there’s any kind of technical issue that needs to be dealt with, not being there to fix it could be a disaster.
If you teach private lessons make sure to either launch on a quiet teaching day, or reschedule your lessons to free your schedule that day.
If you have a school teaching gig, then it’s best to launch on a day that you’re not at work, or on a day when you have a light teaching schedule.
Being around to quickly deal with any small, or large, issues that arise on launch day can make or break your eBook launch.
In my experience, if you prepare well ahead of time, then launch days will be pretty uneventful.
But, the unexpected does happen, and it’s best to be over prepared, and present, than under prepared and away from the action if something happens.
Testing the Sales Process
Before you begin promoting your new eBook on launch day, make sure you test the “add to cart” button on your site, if you’re selling the book on your website.
As well, ask a friend or have a family member buy the eBook and make sure the process runs as expected and the eBook is delivered correctly.
Lastly, test the eBook after you’ve downloaded it, or a friend has, to make sure it opens and functions correctly on all devices.
This means testing it on MAC, PC, tablets, and phones to make sure there aren’t any technical glitches on any of those different devices.
Nothing will ruin your launch day more than your sales page malfunctioning, or an error in the delivery of your eBook after purchase.
As well, you’ll receive a lot of complaints from customers if you wrote your eBook on a MAC but didn’t test it on a PC and there are functionality issues.
By testing your purchase process, and the eBook after download on all devices, you’ll avoid any unnecessary difficulties on launch day.
Once you get close to the launch date, you can prepare your followers by letting them know about the upcoming eBook on social media.
You can post the book cover and a short description of the eBook, or you can post a link to your site where you have a preview page for people to check out.
You could also create a page, for social media and your email list, where people can pre-order the eBook.
This is a page where people pay a few weeks in advance for the eBook, then on the day of the launch the eBook is emailed to them without having to do anything.
Some people find this approach to be successful, but you need to make sure that you launch on the given date so people aren’t waiting for their eBooks.
If you’re absolutely sure of the launch date, then creating a pre-sale order page and posting it to your followers is a solid idea for promoting the new eBook.
But, if you have any doubts about the date, or if it’s too far out to be sure that the book will be ready in time, it’s best not to risk a pre-order.
You can also create a contest on social media where people share your post, or enter their email into a page you create, to enter to win a copy of the new eBook.
Contests are an effective way to promote an upcoming eBook, as well as give value away to your readers, as they might be able to win a book ahead of the launch.
Lastly, you can post a preview link to your eBook, where you post a chapter or section of your eBook for people to read ahead of time.
This can help spread the word about the eBook launch, but at the same time if people can’t buy the book right away they might forget about it.
To combat this issue, you can ask for email addresses to download the free preview, then you can email those readers on the day of the launch as a reminder.
Before you send out your actual sales email, which you’ll do after launch, you can prepare your subscribers a week or two in advance with a pre-launch email.
In this email, you can let people know about the upcoming eBook launch, the title, the content, and a preview of the eBook.
As well, you can include a free lesson in this email so it’s not all about promoting the book; you’re providing quality content at the same time.
This’ll give those that are interested in the eBook a preview of what’s coming up, and provide a free lesson for those that aren’t interested in this eBook.
Make sure to put the launch date and tell people to expect an email that day from you announcing the eBook launch.
You can also mention that they’ll get a discount on the eBook if you decide to offer a reduced price to your email subscribers.
By doing so, people will be excited to get the discount on the eBook, and they’ll know that the next email they get from you will be the book email, so they’ll open it.
You don’t have to overdo it and send out emails too early, or too often, touting the upcoming launch date, especially if that date is far in the future.
Sometimes you’ll get a launch date in mind months in advance, promote that date, then something happens and it’s delayed by days or weeks.
This can lead to a negative experience for those readers that are expecting the eBook on a certain date.
After putting in a lot of work to research, write, and format your eBook, the big day comes and you’re ready to make your book for sale to the general public.
While most of the grunt work is already done, there’s still a lot work that needs to be put in on launch day, and the following weeks, for your book to be a success.
Because of the time it’ll take to successfully launch your eBook, it’s best to clear as much of your schedule as you can in the days and weeks after launching your book.
One of the mistakes many first-time authors make is that they launch the book and go about their day as normal.
Then, questions, sales, technical glitches, and other items start coming in, and they don’t have the time to deal with it all on top of their normal schedule.
Opening up time in your schedule, especially on launch day and the days after, will help you quickly deal with issues that arise and not create undo stress.
To help you promote your new eBook efficiently and effectively, this section will explain several ways that you can spread the word after launch.
Some of these methods will apply more to you than others, but they’re all effective ways to get the word out about your new eBook and generate sales from day one.
Whatever happens on launch day, whether it’s a huge success or nothing happens, don’t panic.
Launching an eBook can take time and effort to get off the ground, while others are overnight successes, and everything in between.
If sales are slow, keep at it, promote your book consistently over time, and learn lessons along the way.
By believing in your book, putting in the time to develop your customer base, and promoting properly, you give yourself the best chance of long-term success.
Lastly, that’s the most important aspect of launching any book, the long term.
If you do 1000 sales on day one and nothing after that, you’ll be excited for a week but then it’s back to the drawing board.
But, a book that sells one copy a day for 5 years will produce a lot more sales over time, it’s a slow trickle compared to a quick blast of sales.
Keeping a focus on the long term will help you get past any short term setbacks, as well as build on the lessons you learn over time to better your eBook promotion.
The most direct way to let people know about your new eBook is to send out an email newsletter to your subscribers.
As subscribers have already signed up to your site, they’re more likely to be excited about your new eBook than non-subscribers.
Because these readers have subscribed to your newsletter, you can offer them a discount on the eBook as a way of saying thanks for their loyalty.
The best way to do this is to provide a discount, 25% for example, for a limited amount of time, say one week from the launch date.
Then, you send the email out announcing the launch of the eBook and the discount, followed by a reminder email one week later that the sale will end that day.
This provides a bonus for your subscribers, and you get to promote your eBook, both without overdoing the email promotion in the process.
When launching an eBook, especially your first, you’ll be excited and want to promote it to your email list.
But, if you overdo it, sending out too many emails, you can alienate your subscribers and cause them to unsubscribe from your email list.
Two emails, a week apart, is enough to not bug people, but let those interested in buying the eBook know about the launch, and remind them that the sale is ending.
From there, you can send out emails in future if you have a sale on your eBook, or just to new subscribers to tell them about you eBook.
Emails about your eBook don’t have to end after one week, but you need to space them out in a way that gets the word out, but doesn’t annoy your subscribers.
A well-constructed email promotion for your new eBook will be the biggest generator of sales during your launch.
In my experience with launching over 10 eBooks, 92% of all eBook sales have come from the email newsletter.
As well as sending out an email to your followers, posting your new eBook sales page on social networks can help bring in traffic to your launch.
Be prepared for social networks to not meet with the same response as an email to your subscribers.
This happens for many reasons, two being that people aren’t always ready to buy something when on social networks, and sites want you to pay to promote a launch.
Sites such as Facebook will detect that you’ve posted a sales link, and then will prevent it from being seen by as many people as a normal post.
In order to reach more people, you’ll have to pay to promote that post, which probably isn’t the best way to spend your money during a launch.
You can expect, based on my experience, to get about 2% of your sales from social network posts.
It’s not a lot of sales, but it does help with the launch.
As well, people will ask questions on social networks about the new eBook, and want to message you there to ask about the eBook.
This is where social networks can come in handy during a launch, as a communication device with potential customers rather than a sales generator.
Lastly, you can increase the engagement with your social network posts by running giveaways during your launch.
You can post on Facebook, for example, and ask people to comment on your post to enter to win a copy of your eBook.
Promotions such as this are an effective way to get the word out about your book on social networks, and generate new followers along the way.
Social networks are a solid platform for interacting with followers during a launch, but aren’t as strong as an email blast for generating sales.
If you keep that as your expectation from the beginning, then your experience with social networks during a launch will be a positive one.
If social networking brings in 2% of sales, and emails bring in 92%, you’re probably wondering where the other 6% comes from.
The answer is on page advertisements.
These are the ads you’ll post on the sidebar, or in the text of your articles, on your website. Here’s an example from my website of a book advertisement on an article.
When people read your articles, they’ll see the advertisements, and some will click over to the sales page and buy your eBook.
Because these readers are already on your site and interested in what you do, they tend to be happy to purchase your book, especially if you offer valuable, free lessons.
To create these ads, you can use the book cover image and link that to your sales page, or you can create a bespoke image that you use to advertise your eBook.
If you have experience designing images such as these, you can create multiple ads for different locations on your website.
Whatever you decide to do, posting a few ads, not too many, on your site will generate sales on launch day and for years to come.
Don’t overdo it though, as having too many ads for your eBook on your site can come across like spam to some readers.
One or two ads letting people know that you offer an eBook for sale is enough to get their attention, and generate sales from those that are interested in the eBook.
And you won’t annoy readers who are on your site for the free lessons, not necessarily to purchase an eBook.
If you keep those readers happy, then they might be an eBook down the road, just not today, or maybe not this particular eBook.
Besides sending out an email to all of your email subscribers, you can send out personal emails to promote your new eBook.
These emails can go out to students, friends, co-workers, peers, and websites that you believe should know about your new book from you directly.
A personal email can be used to communicate directly with your students that the eBook is live, or it can be to ask a peer to help spread the word about your eBook.
It can also be used to ask websites to review your new eBook, as well as magazines, or to let your boss know that you’ve released a new book, if you have a boss.
Personal emails are effective when communicating with people who are personally important to you, rather than a general email sent out to your list.
They’re also more effective when generating publicity for the book, as asking for a share from a friend is better in a personal email than a general email.
Sending personal emails can take time to do, but it’s worth spending the time to let people close to you, friends, family, peers, students, know about your eBook directly.
It’s also the best way to contact publications, websites, and other companies to ask for promotion, as many won’t respond to general or form emails sent their way.
Though you need to spend time to write each email individually, you don’t have to do that on launch day.
As you’ll be busy dealing with other aspects of the launch that day, you can write your personal emails ahead of time, and just send them out on launch day.
One of the most important aspects of a successful eBook launch, and sustained sales over the years, is customer service.
Once your eBook is launched, you’ll receive questions from potential buyers about the book, as well as from customers who have technical and other questions.
By answering these queries in a timely, friendly, and helpful manner, you’ll ensure that customers are happy and potential customers feel confident in their purchase.
There are a number of ways that you can deliver high quality customer service, and so choosing the right one for you and your customers is important.
In this section, you’ll explore various ways that you can connect with customers and potential customers on your site.
If you’re still unsure about which approach is right for you, test a few out and see how they fit into your schedule and how your customers react to them.
Some people find that they prefer quick, instant messages to emails, as it’s more direct and solves problems right away.
Other authors will want to answer emails on their own time and prefer not to use instant messaging.
While others prefer a combination of the two, or use an FAQ page if that can answer customer questions efficiently.
There’s no right or wrong way to provide customer service, as long as you provide customer service and do so in a timely manner.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways that you can offer customer service, the pros and cons to each, and how you can implement them into your website.
One of the most popular options when providing customer service is a contact page.
This is a page on your website where customers and potential customers can send you a note, and you respond by email on your own schedule.
The pros of having a contact page are many, such as:
- Easy to use by customers.
- You can respond on your own schedule.
- You can provide detailed responses by email.
- You can send screenshots, links, and more to help correct an issue.
There are some drawbacks to only offering a contact page, such as:
- Customers have to wait for a reply.
- Sometimes customers have typos in their email addresses.
- Easy to fix issues might take longer than necessary to solve.
Overall the pros outweigh the cons, and no matter what other options you offer for customer service, a contact page is usually essential.
If you have only one option for your customer service, a contact page would be the most logical option.
Instant messaging is such a part of modern culture that many people wouldn’t even consider that you wouldn’t offer this service on their site.
As we use instant messaging with friends, co-workers, and on big corporate sites, it’s become a part of our everyday lives.
Because of this, many customers and potential customers will expect to be able to contact you by instant messenger, though you’re a one-person business.
If you feel that this is the best way to offer customer service, or want to offer it as an option, then adding an instant message plugin to your site is the way to go.
There are many services, such as ClickDesk, that offer plugins for your website that provide instant messaging functionality for customer service interactions.
Here is what clickdesk looks like on a website.
There are pros and cons to offering instant messaging as a customer service option.
Some of the pros include:
- Interact with customers instantly and in real time.
- Easy to use and integrate into your site’s layout.
- Solves problems quickly that might drag on with email.
- When offline messages can be stored and you can reply later on.
While some of the cons are:
- You need to be online to answer in real time.
- Translation might be tricky or cause delays if necessary.
- Sending screenshots and other media is not always easy.
- Plugins do cost some money to purchase or license on your site.
Overall, instant messaging is a solid option for providing customer service, but not as an only option as you’d need to be online or hire employees to man the lines.
Instead, having instant messaging and a contact page, or instant messaging that stores messages if you’re offline, can be an effective customer service combination.
If you’re not comfortable talking to people in real time, then this option isn’t for you.
But, if you enjoy interacting with customers, and have time to dedicate to manning the messenger each day, then IM is an effective way to interact with customers.
Another option that you can provide your customers is an FAQ page, Frequently Asked Questions, with solutions to these questions on the same page.
An FAQ page is helpful when you encounter commonly asked questions that can be easily fixed in a sentence or two.
An example of this type of question would be:
“How do I play the audio files on my iPad?”
The answer could be:
“Download the EZPDF reader, which allows you to play embedded audio on an iPad.”
Many readers will probably ask that question as they encounter problems with the audio files on their iPads.
The answer is direct, easy to understand, and you can even provide a link to the EZPDF reader download page to make things even more straightforward.
If you have questions such as this, that occur frequently and are easy to answer, then you can use an FAQ page to save you and your customer’s time.
While you’ll still have to have at least a contact page for more individual questions and more complicated answers, FAQ pages can be helpful.
To build an FAQ page, keep track of the questions that come in by email and instant messenger over the first weeks or months of your eBook launch.
Then, if you see the same question being asked numerous times, create an entry for it on a draft of your FAQ page.
When you have 5 or more questions and answers in your draft, you’re ready to launch that page and link it to your eBook sales page.
You can also include a link to the FAQ page in the email people receive when they purchase the eBook to let people know how to access it.
If you do publish an FAQ page, you should have a link to your contact page front and center on the FAQ page in case people have further questions.
If you don’t include that link, customers might assume this is all the service you provide, and become frustrated if their questions go unanswered.
In combination with a contact page, and/or instant messaging, an FAQ page can be an efficient way to deal with common questions about your eBook.
Refunds and Refund Policies
Most customers will be happy with their purchase if you’ve done your research, presented a high-quality product, and keep on top of your customer service.
But, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, nor can you account for older technology or lack of technology with your customers.
Because of this you’ll need to offer a refund policy, and provide refunds, when necessary.
Your particular policy can vary depending on what you’re comfortable with offering your customers.
Some sites will over a 30-day money back guarantee no questions asked if the customer isn’t satisfied with the eBook.
While other sites will only refund purchases if there is a technical issue, such as an out of date computer, that cannot be fixed through customer service.
Whatever you decide to offer, you’ll need to offer some sort of refund policy and provide refunds from time to time.
If you do have to give a refund, for technical or other reasons, don’t take it personally, these things happen.
Respond nicely and quickly to the request for a refund, and move on from there.
If you find that many people are asking for refunds, then you have larger issues that need to be addressed, such as a technical glitch or formatting issue with your book.
Lastly, you can post your refund policy on your sales page for people to see, or you can simply deal with them as they arise on an individual basis.
I’ve found, in my own eBook sales, that refunds are few and far between, less than 1% of overall sales.
Because the numbers are so low, I prefer to deal with them on an individual basis, but I have given refunds no questions asked to everyone who’s requested one.
When I do give a refund, the only questions I ask are after the refund has been issued to figure out if there’s anything I can do with my next book to fix this issue.
Sometimes refunds can provide insight into a technical glitch that you can tweak for your next edition or next eBook.
But, make sure to ask about any issues after you’ve refunded the purchase, otherwise customers might become frustrated with the refund process.